After 7 Years, Capital Murder Charges Dropped Against Saginaw Mother

Prosecutors say new evidence surfaced not in the original autopsy

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After seven years, Tarrant County prosecutors have dropped capital murder charges against a Saginaw mother who had been awaiting trial in the 2015 death of her young daughter. 

In a court filing, prosecutors blamed a new medical examiner’s report that broadened the possible timeline of the child’s death, suggesting someone else may have killed two-month-old Madelynn. 

The mom, Yoselin Rivas, had been out on bond since her arrest. 

“Dismissing a capital murder case is not a common event. It’s highly unusual,” Rivas’ attorney Wes Ball said. “It was about seven years in the making.” 

Ball said she cried when he called her with news of the dismissal. 

Rivas, who was then 21, was accused of striking her daughter against a hard surface after doctors found broken ribs and bruises on the baby’s body. 

At the time, prosecutors said Rivas was the only adult around the child at the time of the injuries. 

But in January, former Tarrant County Medical Examiner Dr. Nizam Peerwani issued a new written opinion at the request of Rivas’ attorney, “supplementing” the original autopsy report, prosecutors said. 

Prosecutors said Peerwani included new information not included in the original autopsy about the girl’s body temperature when she arrived at Cook Children’s Medical Center, which indicated she would have died hours before her mother reported finding her. 

“The timeline on when the events that caused the child’s death were actually much broader than police believed,” Ball said. 

Prosecutors agreed. 

“The timeline, in this case, is such that if the victim had succumbed to her injuries hours before she was found, then another adult would be in the timeline,” prosecutors wrote in the court document. 

Separately, in a meeting with prosecutors on March 21, the girl’s father said he didn’t know if Rivas was guilty. He previously said he believed she killed the baby, according to the dismissal papers. 

In a phone interview, Peerwani said the supplement never changed his original findings. 

“I never gave a timeline,” he said. “How can an autopsy determine when a child was injured?” 

“Sometimes people get confused,” Peerwani said. “I explained to the DA that the autopsy is neutral. I can’t tell you who did it.” 

Peerwani added police and prosecutors never consulted with him before arresting Rivas. 

Peerwani retired last year amid controversy about his office’s handling of other autopsies. He denies any wrongdoing. 

Saginaw police did not respond to an email asking about the status of the investigation. 

Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson also did not respond to a request for comment. 

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